With only a year left for the general elections, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has intensified preparations by touring districts and announcing sops to woo all sections of people.
Taking advantage of a two-day break in the ongoing Budget session of the Assembly, the Chief Minister on Saturday visited Koraput district, including the Maoist-affected Laxmipur, to inaugurate and lay foundation stones of several projects.
Senior BJD leaders said if the Chief Minister maintains this pace, he would have crisscrossed the State several times by the time the poll is announced. He would leave the principal Opposition parties, the Congress and the BJP, far behind, they added.
Despite the visit of Rahul Gandhi to the State on February 18 and 19, the Congress remains a house divided. While the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) is trying desperately to catch up with Naveen, the impact of Rahul’s two-day visit to the State is yet to be felt.
The BJP, the other major Opposition in the State, is still busy with the selection of its State unit president.
With poll time approaching, the disinterest of MLAs belonging to both the Opposition as well as the ruling BJD in the Assembly is evident from their reduced attendance in the House proceedings. At times, less than 20 MLAs could be seen in the House during discussions on important topics.
The Chief Minister, however, continues with his sop announcement spree. Naveen had earlier announced schemes to woo panchayatiraj representatives, Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes, construction workers and other sections. The rice at Rs 1- per-kg scheme for BPL families, announced by Naveen, has dealt a blow to the Opposition’s preparations for the next polls.
At Koraput on Saturday, Naveen announced all help to the public sector undertaking Nalco to set up a medical college in the district. He launched several schemes and laid foundations stones for different projects during the trip.